The remaining number of kea left on earth is estimated by some experts at less than one thousand. Recently, five endangered kea were reportedly shot by a disturbed gunman.
The Department of Conservation responded by saying "We are appalled by this sort of behavior and we have referred the matter to the New Zealand police," he said. "All five animals were young and healthy and could have gone on to contribute to future generations of the species." Many New Zealanders would agree with this statement.
Three weeks ago 1080 poison was dropped, aerially, across the Okarito kiwi sanctuary and the surrounding area. The DoC drop covered an area of around 30,000 hectares. 38 kea were radio tagged for observation during the operation.
It has just been reported that at least seven of the nine radio tagged kea from the Okarito region of the drop have been found dead. DoC state "The bad news is that we have discovered seven kea dead, most likely as a result of eating poison baits." Monitoring of the other birds is continuing.
This is not the first time radio tagged kea have been found dead after aerial operations. Kea, kaka, and kakriki are our three endemic parrots. Parrots are intelligent, and curious.
Kea, kaka and kakariki have all been found dead after aerial poisoning operations. That's not surprising. What is surprising, is how the Department of Conservation continue to ignore the devastating impact their aerial operations are having on these rare species, let alone others.
Every year more virgin land is aerially poisoned. Every year, the Department of Conservation, it seems, continue to mislead the public of New Zealand of the "benefits" of these aerial drops. The fact is, there is still not a single, credible scientific study that demonstrates a net population benefit to any native species through the use of aerially applied 1080 poison.
It is time we had an independent, international, scientific review into the use 1080 poison. It will likely reveal what many New Zealanders already know - that the use of 1080 poison is devastating our wildlife, dividing our communities, and likely endangering our health and the health of our children.
In the meantime, should we expect to see the Department of Conservation prosecute itself for killing endemic wildlife? Don't hold your breath.